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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 19:48 GMT 20:48 UK

Thorpe powers to hat-trick

By Charlie Henderson
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

Ian Thorpe won his third gold medal of the Commonwealth Games with yet another convincing performance in the Manchester Aquatics Centre.

The Australian was roared to victory and finished just outside his own world record having been within the record at all three splits.

However, he eased over the last length, missing his own freestyle record by 0.65 of a second.

But his time of 1:44.71 was good enough to shatter his own Commonwealth record, as well as the rest of the field, by just under two seconds.

"I've had an off-day"
Ian Thorpe

It means the 19-year-old is still on course to win his stated aim of seven golds at the Games.

"I'm happy at going under 1:45 but I would have been a bit happier if I had gone under 1:44," he reflected.

"I'm a little disappointed with the time, but I had probably the worst warm-up I've ever had.

"I swam well, I just wasn't feeling 100% - not healthwise, I just wasn't with it as much as last night. I've had an off-day."

Such a verdict after another winning performance will leave his peers questioning how to get the better of him even more.

Thorpe controlled the race throughout and never looked even remotely in danger of losing his perfect record at the Games.

Only compatriot Grant Hackett was able to stick with the pace, but even he found it too hot to handle on the last of the four lengths.

Canada's Rick Say finished third almost five seconds adrift, but his time of 1.49.40 was good enough to edge out England's Jamie Salter.

Earlier in the day, Thorpe had controlled his heat with a professional, conservative performance, leaving the demolition job for the evening session.

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